Ithaca College is partnering with Ecuadorian NGO Fundacion Maquipucuna (FM), an established organization that sells a range of fair trade, organic products in the US and elsewhere under the brand name Choco-Andese. The partnership is meant to develop micro-enterprises in Ecuador based around poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability. The projects will build on the ideas of students who participated in a previous course and includes innovations such as an inexpensive plastic thatch for roofing.
Summer 2009 update: In 2007 this team designed 3 machines for processes relating to plastic thatch and bio-diesel production and worked out a complete process for converting plastic waste into very low-cost roofing solutions. By 2008 they had a machine that stripped plastic off bottles, designed a binding machine for plastic thatch and built a bio-diesel production facility. The team also started working on short-term projects such as designing and selling tours in Ecuador for eco-tourists; selling carbon-friendly picture frames; and leading coffee and chocolate tours. By the end of 2008 this team had a plastic roof thatching process in the application state of patenting, created a working bio-diesel reactor and operations manual, laid the ground work for expanded "edu"-tourism programs in Ecuador and developed and named sustainable products related to eco-tourism. They are also collaborating with another NCIIA program at Rutgers University to conduct bio-exploration in Ecuador. Follow on funding from NCIIA was given to support PlastEco, a low-cost thatch-roofing product made from discarded plastic bottles.
Getting appropriate technology implemented in rural ares in Peru is very difficult due to the geographical dispersion of the approximately 70,000 communities living in extreme poverty. To help solve the problem, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is collaborating with two Peruvian NGOs: Grupo de Apoyo al Sector Rural at the Pontificia Universidad del Peru and the Inca-Bus mobile technology education program. The goal of the collaboration is to create and build systems for sustainable sources of energy and clean water and air for the rural population. Interdisciplinary student design teams from RPI's chapters of Engineers for a Sustainable World and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers will build the systems. Projects will be identified and evaluated based on impact on basic human needs and potential for commercialization.
Summer 2009 update: In 2008 the RPI team set up communication with Peru and received funding to build a demonstration house designed by RPI where technologies they developed were installed and tested. They designed a prototype guinea pig house, a well drilling and pumping system and an improved biomass stove and press for the reformulation of dung. By 2009 this team had also designed and built a solar-powered lighting system, dung stove chimney and drilling bit/rope-pumping system. Because of this project, several classes at RPI now have sustainable engineering components. The team received follow on funding from NCIIA in order to develop affordable and easy-to-use pasteurization equipment for rural families in Peru.
This Hope College team plan uses Manz Biosand Filters to address the drinking water needs of approximately 900 people living in the rural village of Nkuv, Cameroon. Their model for implementation, developed in collaboration with a West African NGO, is the Community-Based Team (CBT). A CBT was designed to consist of five key people recruited from the local population: a Health Specialist, Construction Specialist, Maintenance Specialist, Evaluation Specialist, and Management/Promotion Specialist. The idea was to recruit, train, and deploy a group of locals with the ability to build, maintain, and evaluate the filters without help from the outside. This project represents a first step toward empowering communities in the developing world to actively solve their drinking water problems.
Summer 2009 update: Filter technician training started in May 2006. The team’s health education manual was field tested in May 2008 with additional modules tested in May 2009. They established a relationship with the Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology. By August 2008 this team completed 2 new filter projects in Nkuv in different communities and was preparing to start a third. They received external funding from Thirst Relief International. The team shifted their focus from investigating technology transfer in rural communities to working with the community to develop a financial system whereby homeowners who wanted a filter could buy the materials to construct one. Over 6000 customers have been serviced as of spring 2009 and the team has received $15,000 from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and about $7,000 from the Crossroads project at Hope College. These funds have been used primarily to fund student research assistants.
Northwestern University has an undergraduate capstone design course that includes travel for students to work with researchers at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. While students have been able to provide clear needs assessments and propose solutions to identified problems, there needs to be a way to maintain continuity on projects so that they ultimately become real product solutions. This team will create an MS program as a way to further support the capstone projects. Specifically, the outcome will be a new program that forms a track within the existing MS and BS-MS programs, but requires additional formal training in Healthcare Technology Management at the University of Cape Town and experience in acting as team leaders for the capstone project teams.
Summer 2009 update: This team developed and installed a digital x-ray system in a community health clinic in South Africa. It now functions as an x-ray facility and a student laboratory. A class of four students was admitted to the capstone course and graduated in December 2008 with MS in biomedical engineering and 6 months of R&D activities in Cape Town, South Africa. The first phase of product testing for the x-ray system is complete and the second phase is planned to take place in Guatemala City. This team formed a non-profit organization, hired paid employees, helped arrange for the donation of equipment to the Crossroads Clinic in South Africa and secured additional funding.
University of California - Berkeley, 2006 - $44,150
This team will further develop and test the Sustainable Consumption Action Network (SCAN), a mobile technology that enables shoppers to enter the barcode of a product on their cell phone and bring up information on the social and environmental impacts of the product and the company that makes it. The display is simple, featuring scores from 0-10 for health, environmental, and social performance, as well as an overall rating. Consumers can then click through to see more detailed analyses, share ratings with friends or families, and directly email or SMS complaints or questions to the company that makes the product. In addition to the version of SCAN aimed at US consumers, the team is also developing a wiki-like information management system that will allow workers, farmers, and consumers in developing countries to access and contribute information on company conditions and practices.
Summer 2009 update: This team took their prototype and ultimately hired a team of engineers from Google, Apple, Ebay, and Amazon, to develop their tools further and get them out to the consumer. In Fall 2007 the project spun-off the UC Berkeley campus, licensed some of their IP, created a For Benefit corporate company and raised $3.6 million. GoodGuide has several million users so far. In March 2009 GoodGuide was featured in a TIME magazine article entitled “10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now” and continues to attract media attention.
With this grant, the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) service learning program at PSU will work to improve rural Kenyans’ economic well-being by addressing challenges of low agricultural productivity of Kenyan farmers due to their use of simple instruments and tools. HESE service learning program-enrolled PSU students will work with students from the University of Nairobi and Moi University to design a variety of agricultural devices (both manual and powered) to significantly improve productivity of the farmers. It is expected that, as farmers' incomes increase through the use of the improved manual devices, they will be able to purchase an engine and appropriate attachments powered by the engine, thus increasing productivity even further. Examples of potential devices include water pumps, electric generators, posho mills, decorticators, tillers, and power tools.
Summer 2009 update: By June 2008 this team designed a water well utility rig and rock crusher. By October 2008 they had designed and constructed a utility cart and sisal decorticator. In July 2009, after travel and consultation with local businesses and entrepreneurs, university partners and local communities, the team decided to focus all of its efforts on the development of a water well drilling rig and related business opportunities. During the Fall 2009 semester design teams at Moi University, Jomo Kenyatta University and Pennsylvania State University will design and test the drilling apparatus with business plan development to occur during Spring 2010. Field testing will be undertaken in May 2010.
This program supports the expansion of the Global Institute for BioExploration (GIBEX) into Tanzania. GIBEX, a partnership among Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and North Carolina State University, facilitates sustainable pharmacological bioexploration driven by the concept of “Reversing the Flow,” a term the institute has coined for keeping resources in the source countries rather than removing them. GIBEX does this by training local scientists in developing countries to use portable, field-deployable screening technology, named Screens-to-Nature technology (STN); helping local farmers and manufacturers profit by growing and selling the medicinal plants GIBEX identifies for commercial production; and assigning any intellectual property resulting from the bioexploration to the host country, offering the opportunity to get the products to market through licensing arrangements. GIBEX shares the STN technology with academic institutions in Africa and around the world.
Summer 2009 update: In April 2007 GIBEX successfully conducted training at the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania and by January 2008 had screened extracts from 50 plant species out of the proposed 300 to send through chemical tests. An entrepreneurial workshop held in Tanzania in June 2008 was designed to generate licensing interest. By September 2009, 220 plant species have been screened and 3 students are attached to the STN project and biodiversity documentation. Avon, Inc. registered as a corporate member of GIBEX, and McNeil Nutritionals LLC and L’Oreal are following GIBEX activities. Collaborators at the University of Dar-es-Salaam have obtained government approval in Tanzania to collect plant samples from the forest reserves of the Eastern and Western Arc Mountains for STN bioassay work and will screen the remaining 80 plants using STN technology as well as carry out bioexploration and biodiversity documentation. Most of the data collected so far have been entered into the NAPIS and STN databases.
As initially proposed, this team aimed to aid Afghanistan in its rebuilding efforts by training the country's undereducated and underfunded engineering faculty. CU-Boulder offered a number of educational opportunities to Afghani faculty, including scholarships to allow them to complete online CU-Boulder certificate courses (through a subcontract of a USAID grant to Washington State University); loans of online library courses to Kabul University at little or no cost; training from US engineering and business experts on how to develop sustainable engineering and business solutions involving online components, face-to-face meetings, and short courses.
After the initial plan of offering online training for university faculty proved to be untenable because of the technological divide, and hosting several tech entrepreneurship workshops in and around Kabul with varying results, the team partnered with Afghans for Tomorrow (A4T) and this grant took a new direction. In January 2008, CU and A4T piloted schools with fuel briquette facilities that could produce 1000 fuel briquettes a day (a family of five needs 5 briquettes per day). Students attend school in the mornings (with a dedicated teacher who provides lessons up the 5th grade level) and make briquettes in the afternoons. The project started with 20 street children and disabled young persons from Kabul. In July 2008 Afghans for Tomorrow established their first training center. As of spring 2009 hundreds of Afghanis have been trained at 28 established briquette facilities. More than 5,600kg of briquettes were produced in the last six months of 2008 and in 2009 there were 64 Briquette Team graduates. The goal is to employ 5,000 children eventually and the project has been cleared by the Ministry of Children’s Affairs to ensure that it is not in violation of child labor laws. The Ministry is very happy with the project as the work does not require heavy lifting, bending, eye-strain, etc. and all of the workers are paid a decent wage.
Summer 2009 update: What began as a project envisioned to provide on-site training to Afghan faculty and potential social entrepreneurs has turned into a multi-organizational partnership that has created an opportunity for individuals to become gainfully employed, attend school, and take steps toward becoming self-sufficient small business owners. This team has leveraged $72,000 as a start-up grant in August 2008 to pay 30 salaries and is currently completing a feasibility analysis prior to launching an entrepreneurial venture.
The School of Public Health at Saint Louis University is creating a sustainable model for the manufacture and distribution of point-of-use water filters in the Dominican Republic. These filters enable a household to purify its drinking water and thereby reduce illness. The team is focusing on a bucket system that allows for filtration through a ceramic filter containing activated charcoal. Similar water filters have been distributed by NGOs and student volunteers in the Dominican Republic on a small scale; this team will take the project a step further by developing a business plan to sell a minimum of 600 filters annually. The team has a three-year relationship with a local NGO, the Institute of Latin American Concerns (ILAC), and St. Louis University has been working in Latin America and the Caribbean in the prevention of diarrheal disease since 1998. The team's partnership with ILAC gives the team access to an existing network of health workers in eight communities in rural areas in the Dominican Republic.
Many poor villages in developing countries are located in isolated mountainous areas without access to grid-based electric power. Without electricity, villagers burn a variety of fuels for energy, which can lead to respiratory disease and environmental degradation. At the same time, a number of these villages have nearby streams that represent a considerable untapped natural resource for energy creation. This team aims to take advantage of those stream, creating village-level pico-hydro systems that harness the small mountain streams to produce enough energy to serve the villages. This team has already developed and installed one pico-hydro systems sustainable by building them into community-owned businesses. Specifically, they will develop business plans for two types of companies: franchised power-producing operations in rural villages (villagers running the pico-hydro systems), and system design companies located in nearby urban centers. The team expects to create three to six more prototype systems in Honduran villages similar to Pueblo Nuevo.